"I'll be honest — I don't understand language like that," Sasse said in a "This Week" interview that aired Sunday. "We don't have so-called judges. We don't have so-called senators. We don't have so-called presidents. We have people from three different branches of government who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. And it's important that we do better civics education for our kids."
Sasse said that he has seen only short clips of the interview and that "there may be a broader context."
But he added, "I don't know what the president is trying to do with statements like he allegedly has on O'Reilly."
"Let's be clear," Sasse said. "Has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course. Is the U.S. at all like Putin's regime? Not at all."
"There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world and the murderous thugs that are in Putin's defense of his cronyism," Sasse said. "There's no moral equivalency there."
Stephanopoulos pressed, "Are Senate Republicans in the same place as President Trump on the issue of Russia?"
Sasse responded, "I don't understand what the president's position is on Russia, but I can tell you what my position is."
"We haven't taken borders seriously enough, and we haven't done enough vetting of a lot of folks trying to come to the U.S., especially from nations that have failed states," Sasse said. "I think the administration has taken some important steps to improve upon the clunkiness of the initial weekend" after the executive order was signed.
"From what you've seen over the first two weeks, has that increased your confidence in the president's leadership?" Stephanopoulos asked.
Sasse dismissed the question, saying all Americans could use a civics lesson to get the country through this fractured political environment.